“My win over Jimmy Ellis was a good win for me. That win really opened things up for me. He was a former heavyweight champion and I handled him with ease and showed the world my power,” Earnie Shavers on his KO win over Ellis, from June 18, 1973.
What a pure puncher Earnie Shavers really was. Having gone pro in 1969, Shavers had his breakthrough winning performance on this day back in 1973, when the man who later became known as “The Puncher of the Century” wiped out former WBA heavyweight champ Jimmy Ellis in less than three minutes of action at Madison Square Garden.
Ellis was 38-7 at the time of the fight, while Shavers was 44-2. In terms of KO wins, Shavers had a big edge, having scored 43 knockouts to Jimmy’s 21.
But in terms of experience, former middleweight Ellis had a significant edge over Earnie. Ellis really had been in with them all, including Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Floyd Patterson, Jerry Quarry, and Oscar Bonavena.
As Ellis collided with Shavers, a right hand initially stunned Shavers, and Ellis went to work with his fast hands But then, in a quick turnaround, Shavers launched and landed a shotgun blast of a right uppercut.
The bomb thudded into Ellis’ head and down he went, first onto his back, then into a sitting position, with the badly stricken fighter then ending up on his side.
Ellis tried his best to get up but his equilibrium had been violently blasted into smithereens and his arms and legs would not obey him. Jimmy was counted out and Shavers was the heavyweight talk of the town.
However, Shavers would fall victim to a first-round KO defeat himself in his very next outing, when common opponent Jerry Quarry took him out fast in the very same arena (much to Don King’s displeasure).
And this was sort of the way Shavers’ career would run: either he got his man or they got him. Shavers is deservedly ranked as one of the single hardest punchers in boxing history, yet it’s quite frighting to think how utterly lethal he would have been had he been blessed with a granite chin to go with his awesome punching power.
We lost Jimmy a few years back, in 2014, but Earnie is still with us, and he’s still in great shape, mentally and physically. What a career the 77-year-old legend has to look back on. And what great knockouts Shavers gave us!